Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Random encounter tables

I didn't use this specific piece.  But this is the exact kind of public
domain art that I did use, and I have other pieces from this same artist.
I've spent a little time on my FANTASY HACK m20, which is what I'm calling my "My Perfect D&D version" conversion.  Actually, I finished it, more or less, without much in the way of difficulty.  I bulked up the text from the CULT OF UNDEATH rules just a little bit; made a few updates, added a few details; mostly added some examples of use making the whole thing much friendlier to potential new players.  It came to 34 pages once a few illustrations were stuck in too.  One of those pages is the cover page, one is the table of contents, one is the character sheet (I had to make it from scratch, because porting into Google Docs so I could use it on any of my computers made a hash of the formatting—I opted for one that's meant to be printed out and written on by hand; an old-school type of sheet, if you will) and one is the OGL, so that puts it at 30 pages of actual document.  Roughly 2-3 pages worth of that is taken up by illustrations—all public domain old fashioned art like Gustav Dore and Howard Pyle and Alphonse de Neuville type stuff; fun artwork from a happier day.  Another 2-3 pages is taken up by examples, and another 2 or so pages is the Author's Note and Introduction.  This is still very much a small, rules-light version of the game.

Starting on page 35, I get going on the Appendices.  The first one I'm creating pretty much from scratch, and I admit that it will probably undergo various revisions.  My first draft is, admittedly, a bit rambly and covers all kinds of topics from GM style advice; a distillation and exegesis of everything I've read in the past that actually worked in practice, to advice on how to handle wilderness travel, to random encounter tables (which are themselves heavily modeled after the ones in the Cook/Marsh Expert set.)  All in all, I'm not super happy with the Appendix I; I think it needs to be better organized, and maybe just significantly rewritten altogether.  It ends up being a little bit GMing rules/mechanics material, a little bit philosophical treatment on how I prefer to run the game, and a little bit of a few other things too, which makes the whole thing a little bit uncomfortably random.  But, I've got a first draft done, and that's usually the hardest part anyway.  And maybe the format isn't really a problem, especially as it's an Appendix and therefore optional by default.  Still trying to decide exactly what I want my random encounters tables to look like as the major open issue.

The Appendix II, which includes new races, new classes, and the race and class builders that I've already developed for DARK•HERITAGE and elsewhere was easy; after all, I'd already developed it.  The Appendices in general were largely modeled after Part 8 the Cook/Marsh Expert book, and like that book's own sample Grand Duchy of Karameikos, I wanted to have a sample hex map with setting.  I was surprised, I admit, at how sparse the material was that they presented in the Expert book, though.  In only three pages (two of which are maps/images) they give us everything that we get.  I had forgotten that; I guess I expected a much more robust key.  I'm still working on my Appendix III; I've got a map already, and if I key it the way the Expert set did, I could go to "press" with half an hour or so more work.  I'm not sure I want to be quite that Spartan; I might add several pages of hex key detail.

So between needing to polish and work on Appendix I and figure out exactly how much work I want to put into Appendix III; I'm done.  I'll have ended up being a little short on my page-count estimate.  Even if I go the super-short route for describing Timischburg, my sample setting, I'll probably end up somewhere closer to 50 pages than the 35-40 that I had estimated.

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